Boxing Characters by Mountain Ledges
Posted by shirleycurran on 3 June 2016
Mountain Ledges? Now who is that? One solving correspondent spent some time trying to work out who this setter identity might point to or what sort of a clue his crossword title and name might give us. He came up with “There must be scope for some fun anagrams of the Setter’s pseudonym – but if any are relevant, I can’t find any! Nonetheless, picture the scene, the activity in question being full of champions who ‘dominate lunges’, with it all taking part of course in ‘timeous England’, in full view of statues that could only be described as ‘augmented lions’. And perhaps they carry on playing ‘until game’s done’. The champions naturally have ‘untamed legions’ of followers, most of whom, however, are simply ‘demeaning louts’. [‘Gelatine mounds’ affixed with ‘nominated glues’ to an ‘insulated gnome’, have no part to play in the scene whatsoever ;-)” However, we decided finally that the title must refer to the fact that we were going to be led to HA MP TO NC OU RT (Hampton Court) and the REAL TENNIS that is played there by the ‘boxed characters’.
That was a couple of days after I had checked whether Mountain Ledges qualified for his entry ticket to the exclusive Listener Setters Toping Club. He or she (there was a ‘hen party’ towards the end of the clues) left little doubt. We had ‘hectolitres’ in the very first clue! ‘Vast quantities: hectolitres – a thousand in this sense (6) giving us [H]L A K HS = LHAKHS. That was a fairly tough clue to start us off, already producing one of those rogue extra letters.
We found a less difficult boozy clue in ‘Underground beer down under (4)’ leading to the double definition TUBE then a rather appropriate clue for someone mixing his/her drink, ‘Brings up Aussie beer back in Scots’ yards (8)’ GROG thrown up in REES giving REGORGES. A pity that was an across and not a down clue and rather an evocative memory of what it used to be like outside the pubs on London Road in Glasgow on Saturday nights, but nevertheless, Mountain Ledges confirms his/her membership – See you in the bar next March, somewhere in the north, Mountain Ledges. Cheers!
The serious business of solving began and the grid was fairly speedily populated, top to bottom with a few head-scratching moments. TIPTOED or TYPTOED seemed to fit into 21ac. ‘Worked at Greek grammar and washed over instruction to read on (7)’ That’s what I am doing at the moment as we are due at a Greek wedding and Christening in a month’s time but that didn’t help me to select TYED or TIED to go round PTO in that clue, until I looked in Chambers and found typto, to work at Greek grammar. I wonder how I will be able to sneak that new find into dinner conversation!
I suspect a few unwary solvers will carelessly opt for TIPTOED and maybe choose RIATA over REATA at 46ac ‘Run Tanzania with a lasso (5)’. However, most solvers would, by this stage of solving, have seen JEU DE PAUME helpfully appearing across the centre of the grid and telltale words, DEDANS, TAMBOUR and PENTHOUSE around the perimeter.
We were less sure of what those extra letters were adding up to as we had HA and RT in two corners then MP and TO produced by the very explicit clues ‘Income from church committee gathering money to repair a bell (11)’ C[M]OM + MEND A [TO]M and ‘Doctor buried with rupee in rock where Taj Mahal was built (5)’ AA with R round GP giving us AG[P]RA. It took Wikipedia (as usual) to prompt us that HAMPTON COURT was one of the surviving REAL TENNIS courts and a useful diagram there showed us how to join up those strangely asymmetrical dots (with the convenient instruction that we must not draw one of our straight lines along the perimeter). It was clear that REAL TENNIS would anglicise JEU DE PAUME, leaving all real words – how I appreciate that, as usual.
Another co-solver sent me lots of information about REAL TENNIS (of which I admit I know nothing). I am pasting it here:
First, it is another example of Listener topicality… Australian Rob Fahey, the current World Champion, has held the title continuously since 1994. This week he is defending his title in Newport, Rhode Island, against American challenger, Camden Riviere. It is being played over three days. Riviere won the first leg on Tuesday by 3 sets to 1. The second leg is tonight… and if Riviere wins all 4 sets, he will take the championship… it is overall the best of 13 sets. If Fahey wins even one set tonight, then it will go to a final leg at the weekend.
The link below gives you free LIVE streaming, plus archived recording of what has been played already.
Before the event, I predicted a win for Riviere by 7 sets to 2!
I took the game up in 1954 at Oxford, captaining the University team in 1958. I also joined The Royal Tennis Court club at Hampton Court in 1958 and was secretary there for several years in the 1970s. This photo of mine, taken from the galley above the hazard side penthouse, gives a good idea of what the grid attempts to delineate. As you will see, the projecting “tambour” wall on the near side of the court, does not extend all the way up to the net.
Huge speculation as to who the setter is!!! Do you know? He/she must be a player.
I thought this might interest you too … I wrote it in early 2008.
Nice one, Mountain Ledges (or Insulated Gnome, or whatever). Many thanks.